This important case arose from the competition between Pennsylvania and Virginia for domination of the developing trade with western markets. The State of Virginia authorized construction of a bridge from Wheeling across the Ohio River. The State of Pennsylvania claimed that such a bridge would impede free passage of steamboats to Pittsburgh, a major terminus of such trade. Pennsylvania sought to enjoin construction, on the ground that the bridge was "a nuisance and an obstruction to interstate commerce on a navigable river" [II Warren, The Supreme Court in United States History 234]. For years Pennsylvania had engaged in an ambitious program of canal, railroad, and turnpike improvements; the bridge, it was claimed, would diminish the value of these State-sponsored modes of transportation.
The Supreme Court commissioned R. Hyde Walworth to determine whether the suspension bridge "is or is not an obstruction to the free navigation of the Ohio river, at the place where such bridge is erected across the same, by vessels propelled by steam or sails, engaged, or which may be engaged, in the commerce or navigation of said river; and, if it is such an obstruction, what change, or alteration, if any, can be made, consistent with the continuance of the bridge across the said river, that will remove the obstruction to the free navigation by such vessels..." Congress also weighed in on the issue, scheduling hearings at which the competing positions were aired passionately and in detail.
"Few cases have ever excited greater interest or seemed to affect more extensively the internal commerce of the country than this celebrated controversy." [Id. at 235]. The Supreme Court held that Virginia's enabling Act unconstitutionally conflicted with Congress's power to regulate navigation, and enjoined the construction as a nuisance. Dissenting, Chief Justice Taney argued that Congress's failure to exercise its regulatory power left Virginia free to authorize construction of the bridge which, in any event, Pennsylvania had failed to prove was a public nuisance.
The pamphlets are:
a. [Ellet, Charles Jr.]: THE WHEELING BRIDGE SUIT: A NOTICE OF ITS HISTORY AND OBJECTS, ADDRESSED TO THE LEGISLATURE OF PENNSYLVANIA. Philadelphia: John C. Clark. 1852. 20pp. Disbound a bit roughly, old rubberstamp on title page. With, as issued, large folding 'Map of the Western Railroads Tributary to Philadelphia With Their Rival Lines... Prepared Under the Direction of Charles Ellet Jr. Civil Engineer, by W. Williams, Map Engraver.' State boundary outlines in color, showing rail lines east from Wisconsin and Illinois to the East Coast as far south as Virginia [expert archival repairs at folds on blank verso, bit of chipping to outer blank margin, very small loss, detached from text block]. Good+.
Modelski 80. OCLC 25783946  [as of July 2016].
b. REPLY TO A PAMPHLET, ENTITLED "WHEELING BRIDGE SUIT: A NOTICE OF ITS HISTORY AND OBJECTS, ADDRESSED TO THE LEGISLATURE OF PENNSYLVANIA." CONTAINING FACTS REPORTED BY CHANCELLOR WALWORTH TO THE SUPREME COURT. REASONS WHY THE SUIT NOW PENDING SHOULD NOT BE DISCONTINUED.
[np: 1852]. 12pp, stitched as issued. Light wear, Very Good.
Cohen 12043. OCLC locates four copies under two accession numbers as of July 2016.
c. Thompson, George W.: THE WHEELING BRIDGE; AN ARGUMENT FOR ITS NATIONALITY AND PRESERVATION, BY HON. GEO. W. THOMPSON, OF VIRGINIA. [Washington: Towers. 1852]. 16pp. Disbound, scattered foxing, Good+.
OCLC 21314680  [as of July 2016].
d. Ellet, Charles Jr.: REMARKS TOUCHING THE WHEELING BRIDGE SUIT, ADDRESSED TO THE HON G.W. THOMPSON. BY CHARLES ELLET, JR., CIVIL ENGINEER. Philadelphia: John C. Clark. 1852. 24pp. Disbound. Light margin spotting, Good+.
OCLC 21310267  [as of July 2016]. Cohen 12039.
e. WHEELING BRIDGE CASE. ABSTRACT OF THE EVIDENCE. [Wheeling: Swearingen & Taylor, Prs., 21 Water Street. 1852?]. 8pp. Caption title, as issued Disbound, else Very Good.
Not located on OCLC as of July 2016. Norona 1101 [2- NN, Perry].
f. MEMORIAL OF THE WHEELING BRIDGE COMPANY, TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES. WITH A RAIL ROAD MAP. THE WHEELING BRIDGE SUIT IS A PART OF A RAIL ROAD CONTROVERSY. Philadelphia: John C. Clark. 1852. 21pp. Disbound, light margin spotting. With large folding map, detached from text block [couple of short, clean fold splits] entitled 'Map of the Western Rail Roads Tributary to Philadelphia...' Good+.
Modelski 80. OCLC records ten locations as of July 2016, under several accession numbers. Cohen 12053.
g. [Ellet, Charles Jr.]: THE WHEELING BRIDGE. [np: 1852?]. 6, [2 blanks] pp. Caption title, as issued. Disbound roughly, loose. Otherwise Good+.
OCLC 21310284  [as of July 2016]. Cohen 12040.
h. Wilkins, William: STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA VS. THE WHEELING AND BELMONT BRIDGE COMPANY. ARGUMENT OF HON. WILLIAM WILKINS, IN BEHALF OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURG. READ BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON POST-OFFICES AND POST-ROADS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, APRIL 21, 1852. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co., Printers. 1852. 15, [1 blank] pp. Disbound, Good+.
OCLC 191317317 [1- AAS] [as of July 2016].
i. WHEELING BRIDGE. MR. OLDS, FROM THE COMMITTEE ON THE POST OFFICE AND POST ROADS, MADE THE FOLLOWING REPORT...[Washington: 1852. 16pp, disbound, probably incomplete [other sources record 34 pages].
j. WHEELING BRIDGE. MINORITY REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON POST-OFFICES AND POST-ROADS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE U.S. ON THE MEMORIAL OF THE WHEELING AND BELMONT BRIDGE COMPANY. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co., Printers. 31, [1 blank] pp. Disbound, scattered foxing, Good+.
OCLC 21314636 [2- U TX, WI Hist. Soc.] [as of July 2016].
k. Harding, George: ARGUMENT FOR THE COMPLAINANT, IN THE CASE OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, VS. THE WHEELING AND BELMONT BRIDGE COMPANY, IN SUPPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER'S REPORT UPON THE NECESSITY AND UTILITY OF THE STEAM PACKET CHIMNEYS NOW USED ON THE OHIO RIVER. IN REPLY TO MR. RUSSELL. Washington: 1851. Original printed wrappers, stitched, 16pp. Light wear and mild spotting, Very Good.
Cohen 12041. OCLC records only a few copies, some of which are Kirtas Technologies reprints.
l. Taney, Roger B.: THE OPINION OF CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY, IN THE WHEELING BRIDGE CASE. Richmond: Ritchie & Dunnavant. 1852. 14, [2 blanks] pp. Disbound, else Very Good. Ownership signature, 'Hon. Samuel W. Parker.'
Cohen 12049. Not in Haynes. Item #33025